Children's Hospitals in US 'Drowning' in RSV Infections

Unusually high number of cases of respiratory ailments is overwhelming pediatric units
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2022 3:17 PM CDT
Children's Hospitals in US 'Drowning' in RSV Infections

An unusually high number of cases of a respiratory illness among young children has led to overwhelmed pediatric units at hospitals around the nation. The illness is called RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, and NPR rounds up reports from across the country—from DC to Texas, to Baltimore, and Washington state—of strapped hospitals. RSV is a relatively common ailment, and adults usually have only mild cold-like symptoms for a week or two, per Axios. But the ailment can be far more serious for children under 5—the CDC estimates 58,000 hospitalizations per year in this group, with between 100 and 500 deaths. And this year, cases have begun coming in earlier than usual. Cases detected by PCR tests have tripled in the last two months, according to the CDC.

"The children’s hospitals in this country are drowning right now," Elizabeth Mack, head of the pediatric critical-care unit at South Carolina's Medical University, tells the Washington Post. One theory behind the spike in cases is that kids approximately 3 and younger haven't built up as much protection to viruses as is typical because mask-wearing was so prevalent during the pandemic. The increase in cases has health officials worried about a triple surge in the near future of RSV, flu, and COVID-19 cases, per the Hill. No vaccine exists for RSV, but health officials encourage getting the flu shot because it could mitigate symptoms—and thus ward off hospitalizations at an already busy time. (More RSV stories.)

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